Smith emerging as 3-way threat for Georgia

By: Charles Odum, Associated Press
Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009

— Georgia appears to have found a three-way threat in its freshman class.

Branden Smith already has five carries for 76 yards, one catch for 3 yards and four kickoff returns for 84 yards. Oh, and he has a tackle as the No. 23 Bulldogs' second-string cornerback.

Smith had a 61-yard touchdown run on a reverse in last week's 41-37 win over South Carolina. He said he needed the play to atone for his lost fumble on a kickoff return.

"All I was thinking about was redeeming myself after the fumble I made," Smith said Tuesday. "I just told the receivers to just give me a crease and just block for a second and I'm just going to run through it and score a touchdown."

The freshman, who was clocked at 10.4 seconds in the 100-meter dash at Atlanta's Washington High, also had a 48-yard kickoff return against the Gamecocks. That play was overshadowed by a school-record 100-yard kickoff return by sophomore Brandon Boykin.

ROMANCE IN THE SWAMP

This won't be Lane Kiffin's first trip tot he Swamp for the annual Tennessee-Florida rivalry game.

Kiffin visited the Swamp on Sept. 18, 1999, for the annual rivalry. The Gators beat the defending national champion Vols that day, 23-21.

The first-year Vols coach wasn't there on official business. Then a graduate assistant at Colorado State, Kiffin was attending the game with his girlfriend at the time, Layla Reaves, a Florida alumna.

"Florida won that day, but at that time I was happy Florida won because I was with her," he said.

It was memorable trip for Kiffin as he and Reaves got engaged the day after the game.

Saturday's visit my not be as enjoyable - the Gators are four-touchdown favorites over Kiffin's Volunteers.

NOT SO SPECIAL

The Auburn Tigers are trying to fix their woeful special teams.

The Tigers are getting virtually nothing out of punt returns. They've had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, and they rank 117th nationally in punting.

"We're just not playing well," coach Gene Chizik said. "(We've got) a lot of new faces and names on those teams right now and we're trying to iron out some of those growing pains."

Auburn is averaging just .2 yards on punt returns, 114th nationally. They are averaging 24.1 net punting yards, fourth-worst in the country. Mississippi State scored on a block.

The Tigers have tried Demond Washington, Mario Fannin and freshman Anthony Gulley returning punts. They have muffed two returns, managing to recover both.

BIG 12 DREAMS

When South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wants to see a great quarterback running a precision offense, he turns on a Big 12 game.

After Spurrier mentioned he was still waiting for a breakout game from his Gamecocks offense, a reporter at his news conference Tuesday asked him what one would look like. He immediately thought of Texas and its Heisman runner-up quarterback.

"A breakout game is scoring a lot of points, scoring in the red zone when you get down there, really looking sharp with what you're doing, things of that nature. The way Colt McCoy and some of those guys play, that's called a breakout game," Spurrier said.

Spurrier's quarterback, Stephen Garcia, set career bests with 31 completions for 313 yards in last week's loss to No. 23 Georgia.

"Stephen is trying to understand what we're trying to do," Spurrier said. "Hopefully he'll have a breakout game here soon. I don't know when it's going to be, but we're hoping a breakout game occurs soon."

MICAH'S MANE

Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson is the defense's vocal leader and he lets his head do some of his talking.

Johnson had the "UK" symbol shaved into the side of his head before the season-opener against Miami of Ohio. There may be a new design on Saturday when the Wildcats host rival Louisville in the Governor's Cup.

"I haven't decided yet," said Johnson, who sports a mini-mohawk. "I've got to let it grow out a little."

He said he plans to put in a new phrase every few weeks.

SHORT AND SWEET

In leading No. 9 LSU to a 2-0 start, sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson has completed 65 percent of his passes and hasn't turned the ball over. As for unloading long heaves downfield, there hasn't been much of that.

Making only the third and fourth starts of his young career, Jefferson is 31 of 48 with three touchdowns. He's averaging an unspectacular 155 yards passing per game.

Coach Les Miles likes Jefferson's safe, winning style after LSU endured a 2008 season in which then-starter Jarrett Lee had seven interceptions returned for touchdowns.

"It's very obvious that (Jefferson) manages the game very well," Miles said. "If it's not there, he throws it away. If it's not there, he scrambles to the line of scrimmage. He understands that there are some responsibilities at the quarterback position besides just throwing it."

YOUNG LEGS

Vanderbilt freshman Zac Stacy might be a surprise around the Southeastern Conference. He ranks fourth in rushing, averaging 111 yards a game through two games. Coach Bobby Johnson said his coaches expected Stacy to be good.

"I'm glad we're not surprised," Johnson said. "We all thought he was an extremely good player in high school and one of the leading rushers in the state of Alabama last year. He's compact. He's put together extremely well. He's got a knack for making great cuts at the right time, and he also is physical enough to take the pounding and also physical enough to break tackles. He can catch the ball."

Stacy from Centreville, Ala., has started the first two games for Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) with senior Jared Hawkins sidelined by a sore foot. He ran for 133 yards against Western Carolina and had 89 yards in last weekend's 23-9 loss at No. 9 LSU.

AP Sports Writers Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, La.; Will Graves in Louisville, Ky.; John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., and Associated Press Writers Beth Rucker in Knoxville, Tenn., and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

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